Last updated
Former Island
Kampveerse toren.jpg
Campveer Tower in Veere, built in 1500
Country Netherlands
Province Zeeland
Municipality Middelburg
  Total215.72 km2 (83.29 sq mi)
  Density526/km2 (1,360/sq mi)
Postal code
Area code(s) 0118
Major roads A58, N57, Zeeuwse lijn

Walcheren (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɑlxərə(n)] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a region and former island in the Dutch province of Zeeland at the mouth of the Scheldt estuary. It lies between the Eastern Scheldt in the north and the Western Scheldt in the south and is roughly the shape of a rhombus. The two sides facing the North Sea consist of dunes; the rest of its coastline is made up of dykes. Middelburg lies at its centre; this city is the provincial capital and Vlissingen 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) to the south is the main harbour. The third municipality is Veere.

Island Any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water

An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerries, cays or keys. An island in a river or a lake island may be called an eyot or ait, and a small island off the coast may be called a holm. A grouping of geographically or geologically related islands is called an archipelago, such as the Philippines.

A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman provincia, which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outside Italy. The term province has since been adopted by many countries. In some countries with no actual provinces, "the provinces" is a metaphorical term meaning "outside the capital city".

Zeeland Province of the Netherlands

Zeeland is the westernmost and least populous province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and peninsulas and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. Its area is about 2,930 square kilometres (1,130 sq mi), of which almost 1,140 square kilometres (440 sq mi) is water, and it has a population of about 380,000.


Originally, Walcheren was an island, but polders and a dam across the Eastern Scheldt have connected it to the (former) island of Zuid-Beveland, which in turn has been connected to the North Brabant mainland.


The Oosterscheldekeringpronounced [oːstərˌs̺xɛldəˈkeːrɪŋ], between the islands Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland, is the largest of the 13 ambitious Delta Works series of dams and storm surge barriers, designed to protect the Netherlands from flooding from the North Sea. The construction of the Delta Works was in response to the widespread damage and loss of life due to the North Sea Flood of 1953.

Eastern Scheldt estuary in Zeeland, Netherlands

The Eastern Scheldt is a former estuary in the province of Zeeland, Netherlands, between Schouwen-Duiveland and Tholen on the north and Noord-Beveland and Zuid-Beveland on the south. It is also the largest national park in the Netherlands, founded in 2002.

Zuid-Beveland Peninsula in Zeeland, Netherlands

Zuid-Beveland is part of the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands north of the Western Scheldt and south of the Eastern Scheldt.


Early history

As early as Roman times, the island functioned as a point of departure for ships going to Britain; it had a temple of the goddess Nehalennia who was popular with those who braved the waters of the North Sea. The Romans called it "Wallacra", a term most likely associated with Walhaz , the name Germans used for Romans.

Roman Britain part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire

Roman Britain was the area of the island of Great Britain that was governed by the Roman Empire, from 43 to 410 AD. It comprised almost the whole of England and Wales and, for a short period, southern Scotland.

Nehalennia water deity

Nehalennia is a goddess of unclear origin, perhaps Germanic or Celtic, Nehalennia is attested on and depicted upon numerous votive altars discovered around what is now the province of Zeeland, the Netherlands, where the Rhine River flowed into the North Sea. Worship of Nehalennia dates back at least to the 2nd century BC, and veneration of the goddess flourished in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

Walhaz word

*Walhaz is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word meaning "foreigner", "stranger", "Roman", "Romance-speaker", or "Celtic-speaker". The term was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Western Roman Empire, who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages. The adjectival form is attested in Old Norse valskr, meaning "French"; Old High German walhisk, meaning "Romance"; New High German welsch, used in Switzerland and South Tyrol for Romance speakers; Dutch Waals "Walloon"; Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning "Romano-British". The form of these words imply that they are descended from a Proto-Germanic form *walhiska-. It is attested in the Roman Iron Age from an inscription on one of the Tjurkö bracteates, where walhakurne "Roman/Gallic grain" is apparently a kenning for "gold".

Walcheren became the seat of the Danish Viking Harald (fl. 841-842), who conquered what would become the Netherlands together with his brother Rorik (fl. 842-873) (or Rurik) in the ninth century. One fringe theory has it that Ahmad ibn Rustah (fl. 10th century) described Walcheren when reporting on the seat of the Rus' Khaganate. [1] Another fringe theory mentions Walcheren as the seat of Hades, described by Homer. [2]

Harald the Younger was a Viking leader and a member of the Danish royal family. He has sometimes been mistakenly identified with Harald Klak, who was in fact his uncle and probable namesake. His brother was Rorik of Dorestad.

Rorik of Dorestad Danish Viking ruler

Rorik was a Danish Viking, who ruled over parts of Friesland between 841 and 873, conquering Dorestad and Utrecht in 850. Rorik swore allegiance to Louis the German in 873. He died at some point between 873 and 882.

Rurik Varangian chieftain

Rurik, according to the 12th-century Primary Chronicle, was a Varangian chieftain of the Rus' who in the year 862 gained control of Ladoga, and built the Holmgard settlement near Novgorod. He is the founder of the Rurik Dynasty, which ruled the Kievan Rus' and its successor states, including the Grand Duchy of Moscow and the Tsardom of Russia, until the 17th century.

Treaty of Dover

Under the Secret Treaty of Dover, concluded in 1670 between Charles II of England and Louis XIV of France, England was supposed to get possession of Walcheren as well as the isle of Cadzand, as the reward for helping France in the then impending war against the Dutch Republic. In the event, the Dutch resistance - much stronger than anticipated - managed to repulse the French-English attack, and the treaty was not implemented.

Secret Treaty of Dover International agreement

The Treaty of Dover, also known as the Secret Treaty of Dover, was a treaty between England and France signed at Dover on 1 June 1670. It required that Charles II of England would convert to the Roman Catholic Church and assist Louis XIV with 60 warships to help and 4000 soldiers in France's war of conquest against the Dutch Republic. In exchange, Charles would secretly receive a yearly pension of £230,000, as well as an extra sum of money when Charles informed the English people of his conversion, and France would send 6,000 French troops if there was ever a rebellion against Charles in England. The secret treaty was signed by Arlington, Arundell, Clifford and Bellings for England and Colbert de Croissy for France. Both kings exchanged letters of ratification and kept secret the existence of the treaty, A public treaty of Dover was also negotiated, but it was a fake designed for propaganda and to hide the religious dimension of the secret treaty. The Third Anglo-Dutch War was a direct consequence of this treaty. The actual treaty was published by historians a century later.

Charles II of England King of England, Ireland and Scotland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death.

Louis XIV of France El caso de Luis XIV en Francia

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who reigned as King of France from 1643 until his death in 1715. Starting on 14 May 1643 when Louis was 4 years old, his reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. In the age of absolutism in Europe, Louis XIV's France was a leader in the growing centralisation of power.

Napoleonic Wars

Starting on 30 July 1809, a British armed force of 39,000 men landed on Walcheren, the Walcheren Campaign, with a view to assisting the Austrians in their war against Napoleon, and attacking the French fleet moored at Flushing (Vlissingen). The expedition turned into a disaster – although Flushing surrendered the Austrians had already been decisively defeated at the Battle of Wagram in early July and were suing for peace. Meanwhile, the French fleet had moved to Antwerp, and the British lost over 4,000 men to a disease called "Walcheren Fever", thought to be a combination of malaria and typhus, as well as to enemy action. The French suffered some 4000 dead, wounded and captured. With the strategic reasons for the campaign gone and the worsening conditions, the British force was withdrawn in December.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Walcheren Campaign conflict

The Walcheren Campaign was an unsuccessful British expedition to the Netherlands in 1809 intended to open another front in the Austrian Empire's struggle with France during the War of the Fifth Coalition. Around 40,000 soldiers, 15,000 horses together with field artillery and two siege trains crossed the North Sea and landed at Walcheren on 30 July. This was the largest British expedition of that year, larger than the army serving in the Peninsular War in Portugal. The Walcheren Campaign involved little fighting, but heavy losses from the sickness popularly dubbed "Walcheren Fever". Although more than 4,000 British troops died during the expedition, only 106 died in combat; the survivors withdrew on 9 December.

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

World War II

Strategically situated at the mouth of the River Scheldt, Walcheren was the key that allowed use of the deep-water port of Antwerp, located further upstream on the right bank of the southern estuary of the river. It was fought over during World War II in 1940 between Dutch and German troops in the Battle of the Netherlands, and again in 1944 in the Battle of Walcheren Causeway, the fourth and final stage of the Battle of the Scheldt. On 3 October 1944 the RAF bombed the sea wall at Westkapelle causing the Inundation of Walcheren. The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division cleared South Beveland to the east and approached the island on 31 October 1944. The plan was to cross the Sloe Channel, but leading troops of the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade found that assault boats were useless in the deep mud of the channel. The only route open was the 40 metre wide Walcheren Causeway, a mile-long land bridge from South Beveland to the island. The Canadian Black Watch sent a company across on the evening of 31 October, but was stopped. The Calgary Highlanders sent two companies over in succession, the second attack opening up a bridgehead on the island. The Highlanders were eventually thrown back, having lost 64 killed and wounded. Le Régiment de Maisonneuve relieved them on the causeway, followed by the 1st Battalion, Glasgow Highlanders of the British 52nd Infantry Division. Meanwhile, on 1 November 1944, British Commandos landed in the village of Westkapelle in order to silence the German coastal batteries looking out over the Scheldt. The amphibious assault ( Operation Infatuate ) proved a success and by 8 November, all German resistance on the island had ceased.



Topographic map of Walcheren, 2010-2011. Click to enlarge.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Woensdrecht Municipality in North Brabant, Netherlands

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Zeelandic Flanders Region in Zeeland, Netherlands

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Vlissingen Municipality in Zeeland, Netherlands

Vlissingen is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren. With its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Vlissingen has been an important harbour for centuries. It was granted city rights in 1315. In the 17th century Vlissingen was a main harbour for ships of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It is also known as the birthplace of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter.

Westkapelle, Netherlands City in Zeeland, Netherlands

Westkapelle is a small city in the municipality of Veere on the island Walcheren, in the province Zeeland of the Netherlands. On 1 January 2005, it had a population of 2,671. Westkapelle is on the westernmost tip of Walcheren and is surrounded by the sea on three sides.

Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine conflict

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The Battle of Walcheren Causeway was an engagement of the Battle of the Scheldt between the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade, elements of the British 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division and troops of the German 15th Army in 1944. It was the first of many conflicts on and around Walcheren Island during the Scheldt battles. It was also the second major battle fought over a terrain feature known as the Sloedam during the Second World War.

Operation Infatuate

Operation Infatuate was the code name given to an Anglo-Canadian operation during the Second World War to open the port of Antwerp to shipping and relieve logistical constraints. The operation was part of the wider Battle of the Scheldt and involved two assault landings from the sea by the 4th Special Service Brigade and the 52nd (Lowland) Division. At the same time the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division would force a crossing of the Walcheren causeway.

The Battle of Zeeland occurred on the Western Front during the early stages of the German assault on France and the Low Countries during World War II. Several Dutch and French units attempted to hold off the German onslaught by making a determined defense of the Dutch province of Zeeland. The battle lasted eight days and was a disappointing defeat for the French and Dutch forces defending the province.

The Sloedam was a dam, connecting the Dutch islands Zuid-Beveland and Walcheren near the town of Arnemuiden. Before the dam was constructed, these islands were separated by a stretch of water called the Sloe. The Sloedam was constructed in 1871 for the railway connection between the towns of Flushing and Roosendaal, the so-called Zeeuwse Lijn. After World War II, the areas to the south of the dam were poldered. Since the Veerse Gat estuary was closed off by the Veerse Gatdam in 1961, the Sloedam no longer functions as a primary defense against the sea.

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Marcel Deslaurens French soldier

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Inundation of Walcheren intentional inundation of Walcheren

The Inundation of Walcheren was the intentional, but uncontrolled military inundation, effected by bombing the sea dikes of the former island of Walcheren in Zeeland by the Allies on and after 3 October 1944 in the context of Operation Infatuate during the Battle of the Scheldt after the Allied Invasion of Normandy during World War II. Though the inundation was justified by military necessity, it is controversial whether it was proportional in view of the predictable devastating effects for the civilian population, and the ecology of the island. The fact that the breaches in the sea dikes of the island remained open for a very long time, subjecting the island to the full impact of the twice-daily tides, caused severe damage to agricultural land and infrastructure, and severe hardship for the civilian population. Leaving the breaches open for such a long time, which was unavoidable due to the war-time lack of resources making closing impossible, subjected them to scouring by the tides, that widened and deepened them to such an extent that closing them eventually became extremely difficult, necessitating the development of new dike-building techniques, such as the use of caissons. The last breach was closed on 23 October 1945 and the draining of the island took until early 1946. Only after that could rebuilding the infrastructure and reconstructing the housing stock and the island's economy start. Walcheren was spared during the North Sea Flood of 1953 that devastated many other parts of Zeeland.

Wilhelm Daser

Wilhelm Daser was a German military officer who commanded the 70th infantry division of the Wehrmacht during the Battle of the Scheldt and surrendered unconditionally on 6 November 1944 in Middelburg.


  1. Aleksandrov, A. A. (1997). Остров руссов[The island of the Rus'] (in Russian). St. Petersburg-Kishinev. pp. 222–224.
  2. Geography of the Odyssey according to I. Wilkens

Coordinates: 51°31′17″N3°34′56″E / 51.52139°N 3.58222°E / 51.52139; 3.58222